A GE Engineer Explains How Lightsabers Work
We recently posted a HowStuffWorks analysis of the inner workings of the standard Jedi-issued lightsabers from Star Wars. Another view of lightsaber technology is provided by Matt Gluesenkamp, an Edison Engineer at GE Global Research. He began by browsing through sometimes contradictory information on StarWars.com, Wookieepedia, and HowStuffWorks.com.
Gluesenkamp determined the following characteristics: Each lightsaber has a power source, a lightsaber crystal, one or more focusing crystals, and a stabilizing emitter system. The power source is typically a diatium power cell, often with a capacity of several megawatt-hours. The lightsaber crystal converts the power cell’s energy into a plasma that is then passed through and directed by the focusing crystals. Finally, the emitter system stabilizes the plasma into a blade shape using a mix of power modulation and magnetic field containment. As an engineer, he finds that this does not make sense and he concludes, “so it seems quite impossible to create a lightsaber, as seen in the Star Wars films, using existing technologies, materials, and physical laws.”
Photo above courtesy of handmade lightsaber builder Roland Palotai.